Monday, July 8, 2013

Is Cannabis a Legitimate Treatment Option for Cancer?

Why_not_cannabis?_www.living2inspire.com

Hello friends!
This is a report I recently wrote for one of my classes last semester. It is a topic I feel very strongly about. The more I researched, the more convinced I became that cannabis is a legitimate treatment option. Our government along with the pharmaceutical companies do not want you to know this stuff. This paper will reveal the REAL reason for the negative stigma towards "marijuana." 

Educate Yourself!

Thank you for taking the time to read :)
Dana


for
Professor William Foster
Technical Writing Instructor
Front Range Community College
Fort Collins, Colorado

 by
English 131 Student

 May 6, 2013

Table of Contents
Abstract …………………………………………………………………………………………..iii
Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..1
Section 1, Cannabis: History and Use—Past/Present............…….………...……………………..2
History..……………………………………………………………………………………2
Present Use ...……………………………………………………………………………...6
                        Cancer-related Nausea and Loss of Appetite…..………………………………….7
                        Cancer-related Pain Management…………………………………………………8
Section 2, Traditional Cancer Treatments: History and Use—Past/Present………………………9
            Evolution of Traditional Cancer Treatments……………………………………………...9
                        Surgery……………………………………………………………………………9
                        Radiation………………………………………………………………………….9
                        Chemotherapy……………………………………………………………………10
                        Side-effects………………………………………………………………………10
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….12
Works Cited……………………………………………………………………………………...13
Addendum by xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx………………………………………………………………15
Figures and Tables
Figure 1 Cannabis Strains…………………………………………………………………………1
Figure 2 State by State Medical Marijuana Stats………………………………………………….5
Figure 3 How Cannabis Works……………………………………………………………………7

Abstract

There are many skeptics who have a pre-conceived notion as to the validity of the medicinal claim for cannabis. Is it a legitimate treatment option?
The use of cannabis stretches back into a well-documented, ancient history and was used for many years in many different cultures. Why would they have continued its use if there was not some sort of relief?
It is through scientific research that we are finding the answers to these questions. Cannabis has not only been proven to act as an analgesic, a bronchodilator, an appetite stimulator and mood enhancer, it has also recently been proven to unleash  a “programmed cell death” upon cancer cells in the human body. Although the latter is not yet a prescribed option for treatment or the “curing” of cancer, it is something we need to keep ourselves aware of.
With the bombardment of pharmaceutical ads, media coverage and conditioned programming, in conjunction with the undesirable side-effects of traditionally prescribed treatments; education and personal preference is the key to making informed decisions. We must be vigilant and question everything regarding our own health.
It does appear “medical marijuana” is a legitimate way in which to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions without unhealthy side-effects and there are many more advancements on the horizon. It will be interesting to see how “the forces that be” handle the evidence. 

INTRODUCTION

The Cannabis plant, better known as “Marijuana,” has three major botanical strains: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.  For the purpose of this report, we will be focusing on the medical uses of the indica and sativa strains. The ruderalis strain is more associated with product such as rope, paper, clothing, food and fuel, and less with mental and physical health. There are many skeptics with pre-conceived notions as to the validity of the medicinal claim for cannabis. Is cannabis a legitimate treatment option? This report intends to enlighten its audience on whether it is worth their time to pursue the medicinal aspects of cannabis.
Cannabis_Strains_www.living2inspire.com
Figure 1. Cannabis strains. 

SECTION 1

CANNABIS: IT’S HISTORY AND USE—PAST AND PRESENT HISTORY

In an article on medicalnewstoday.com, What is Marijuana? What is Cannabis? it states there are over 400 chemicals contained in these plant genuses and of those chemicals, there are two main active ingredients: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). The plant is usually broken down into dried buds, hashish and oil for usage or further processed into edibles, salves, lotions and body oils. More recently synthetic versions have been made into tinctures, under-the-tongue sprays and capsules for prescribed medicinal use.
The history of cannabis stretches back into ancient times and is well-documented. The National Institute of Drug Abuses’ (NIDA) stated in their Marihuana Research Findings 1976, that medicinal use of the cannabis plant pre-dates recorded history. They also stated that “Cannabis had many uses as a medicinal herb in China; these are mentioned in the first or second century A.D. Pen Ts’ao Ching (Rubin, 1976) and are based upon traditions passed down from prehistoric times … the use of hemp as a folk medicine, ritual potion, condiment and intoxicating agent spread to India, the Middle East and beyond.” This was referenced from the fifteenth-century B.C. Chinese Pharmacopeia. According to Psychology Today, our first written references regarding cannabis are from a book called the Shu King, which date back to 2350 B.C. and refers to “silk and hemp” (Psychology Today).
            Throughout the history of this mysterious plant, there have been many recorded medicinal uses from a vast array of cultures. Most of the treated ailments had something to do with the alleviation of; dysmenorrheal (female cramps), loss of appetite, pain, breathing disorders and psychological issues, such as “melancholia” and “hysteria” (NIDA Research 1976). More recently, researchers have proven that cannabis has far more healing power than previously thought. Most importantly, it’s role in fighting cancer at the molecular level.
While it is true that many people use the cannabis plant for recreational use, there are many (including medical researchers) who claim it is the medicinal properties to which they are attracted. Up until the late 1930’s, extracts of cannabis were an important part of the American Pharmacopoeia, with companies such as Parke-Davis and Eli-Lily mass-producing standardized extracts for the use of sedative, analgesic and anti-spasmodic conditions. Grimault & Company packaged marijuana cigarettes for use as a remedy to combat asthma (Pro-Con.org).
It wasn’t until 1930 when a man by the name of Harry Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, began to sway government opinion in his campaign against “marihuana.” He used the term “marihuana” in a derogatory manner, while working to incite fear of Mexican and Spanish-speaking people. He stated “I wish I could show you what a small marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions” (Britannica Online).
Around that same time, while hemp was still heavily in use for making paper, newspaper mogul Randolph Hearst dropped the words “cannabis” and “hemp” from his newspaper’s vocabulary and also began to campaign against “marihuana.”  What’s more interesting is the fact that William Randolph Hearst had financial interests in paper and lumber industries at that time, which was thought to have provoked him to eliminate the competition.
At the peak of the campaign against marijuana led by the federal government and Hearst, medicinal use of cannabis began to see its decline and was replaced by opium-derived drugs. During legislative hearings in May of 1937, the American Medical Association let it be known that they were not in favor of the government stance on cannabis. The last witness to speak during these hearings was legislative counsel of the AMA, Dr William C. Woodward when he announced his opposition to the bill. He stated,
 There is nothing in the medicinal use of Cannabis that has any relation to Cannabis addiction. I use the word 'Cannabis' in preference to the word 'marihuana', because Cannabis is the correct term for describing the plant and its products. The term 'marihuana' is a mongrel word that has crept into this country over the Mexican border and has no general meaning, except as it relates to the use of Cannabis preparations for smoking...
To say, however, as has been proposed here, that the use of the drug should be prevented by a prohibitive tax, loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis (Pro-Con.org).
Since those early days of prohibition against “marijuana,” it has been an uphill battle for researchers and proponents for the medicinal use of “cannabis” and there is another variable that must be considered; it is the fact that a plant cannot be patented. How does this affect the rate at which our government is motivated to act? Perhaps we should ask the pharmaceutical companies that question.
In 1985 the FDA approved a synthetic form of THC called Marinol for use in the treatment of nausea associated with chemotherapy and later for the treatment of anorexia. Interestingly, in its synthetic form, it went from schedule I to schedule II, so it could be prescribed.  It wasn’t until 1996 that independent states (beginning with California) finally began legalizing the use of medical marijuana (MMJ) for various ailments—including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, muscular spasticity, migraines and several other diseases. In 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial calling for marijuana to be rescheduled, stating,
Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medicinal use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat. The government should change marijuana's status from that of a Schedule 1 drug (considered to be potentially addictive and with no current medical use) to that of a Schedule 2 drug (potentially addictive but with some accepted medical use) and regulate it accordingly (Norml).
To this day, cannabis remains a schedule I drug in the same category as heroin. There are eighteen states that have legalized MMJ, two of which are now legal for recreational use.
MMJ_Stats_www.living2inspire.com
Figure 2. State by State Medical Marijuana Stats.

PRESENT USE

One of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer research today with regards to the active ingredients in cannabis is something called “apoptosis,” which is a term used to describe the way in which the human endocannabinoid system not only regulates and inhibits tumor growth, but will also induce programmed cell death (Cancer Res 2004).
According to Nature.com,
The term 'endocannabinoid' — originally coined in the mid-1990s after the discovery of membrane receptors for the psychoactive principle in Cannabis,  9-tetrahydrocannabinol and their endogenous ligands — now indicates a whole signalling system that comprises cannabinoid receptors, endogenous ligands and enzymes for ligand biosynthesis and inactivation. This system seems to be involved in an ever-increasing number of pathological conditions. With novel products already being aimed at the pharmaceutical market little more than a decade since the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoid system seems to hold even more promise for the future development of therapeutic drugs. We explore the conditions under which the potential of targeting the endocannabinoid system might be realized in the years to come (Nature.com).
It appears our bodies are programmed for the use of cannabis. THC is the only ingredient that fits into these cannabinoid receptors and this is what all the fuss is about.

How_Cannabis_Works_www.living2inspire.com
Figure 3. How Cannabis Works.

Cancer-related Nausea/Loss of Appetite

            It is fairly well-known that smoking marijuana induces “the munchies;” a condition that not only increases appetite, but also helps to intensify flavor. What is lesser-known is the fact that cannabis also quells nausea. This is especially important to cancer patients experiencing this common side-effect relating to chemotherapy. Nutrition is a very important part of the healing process and if food cannot be held down, the energy needed for recovery and repair isn’t accessible. It comes as no surprise that cannabis has also been used in the treatment of anorexia. “Cannabinoids stimulate appetite and may have a use in palliative care for anorexia caused by opioids, antiviral drugs, AIDS-related illnesses or terminal cancer…” (Wiley Online Library).

 Cancer-Related Pain Management

The use of cannabis for pain throughout history is well-documented, but there are many recent studies that provide scientific-based conclusions. In one study published by Anaesthesia called Pharmacological actions and therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids, researchers found that,
Noyes et al. [59, 60] carried out two double-blind placebo-controlled studies with THC. In the first study, 10 patients with cancer pain received oral THC 5, 10, 15 and 20 mg and placebo in random order. Significant pain relief was obtained with the two higher doses compared with placebo. Pain relief peaked at 3 h and was still near maximum 6 h after THC administration. In the second study, oral THC 10 mg and 20 mg was compared with oral codeine 60 mg and 120 mg in 36 patients with cancer pain. Tetrahydrocannabinol 20 mg and codeine 120 mg gave significant pain relief compared with placebo. Jain et al. [61], in another controlled study, reported significant pain relief compared with placebo in 56 patients with postoperative pain given the synthetic cannabinoid levonantradol intramuscularly in four doses (1.5, 2.0, 2.5 and 3.0 mg). There was no clear dose−response effect but analgesia with the higher doses persisted for well over 6 h” (Wiley Online Library).
It appears pain sufferers obtain relief through the use of cannabis on its own, as well as in conjunction with opiates. The need for opiates is greatly reduced when used in conjunction with cannabis.

 SECTION 2
TRADITIONAL CANCER TREATMENTS:
HISTORY AND USE—PAST AND PRESENT

EVOLUTION OF TRADITIONAL CANCER TREATMENTS

Surgery          

Back to the days of Hippocrates, surgeons and physicians have been battling cancer. In those days, after realizing again and again that tumors would re-emerge after surgery, they began to label the patient “incurable.”  It wasn’t until the 21st century; physicians believed the disease could be cured. One of the issues was the inability to perform surgery without anesthesia. That began to change in 1846 when anesthesia finally became available. This period of time was known as “the century of the surgeon” (American Cancer Society).
            With practice and the use of anesthesia, these surgeons felt confident enough to remove entire cancers and perform mastectomies. Later on, surgeons realized they did not have to resort to such radical methods regarding breast cancer and opted for the less invasive “lumpectomy.” Advancements were also made in bone and soft-tissue cancers, allowing removal of tumors without having to resort to amputation.  Even more recently, the medical industry has the use of tiny cameras and tools, which allow them to enter the body in the least invasive manner possible.

Radiation       

It was in the very early 1900’s when radiation therapy first came into use after the discovery of radiation as applied to diagnosis, “Radiation therapy began with radium and with relatively low-voltage diagnostic machines” (American Cancer Society). Since that time great advancements have taken place which enable oncologists to treat the tumors with greater precision.
On another note, the same radiation used to diagnose and treat, was actually found to cause cancer. The term for this is “secondary cancer.” This occurs when healthy tissues are affected by the radiation located in the nearby vicinity. Although these secondary cancers are not as prevalent as they once were, their risks cannot be ruled out.

Chemotherapy

            It was during World War II when military personnel exposed to mustard gas exhibited toxic levels of this poison which affected their white blood cells. Researchers began investigating ways to improve conditions in order to protect the men and during the course of this research identified that “a compound called nitrogen mustard was studied and found to work against a cancer of the lymph nodes called lymphoma. This agent served as the model for a long series of similar but more effective agents (called alkylating agents) that killed rapidly growing cancer cells by damaging their DNA” (American Cancer Society). It was around that same time when other researchers found certain compounds that worked well in conjunction, propelling the era of chemotherapy. In 1956, the first case of metastatic cancer was cured.

Side-effects

The following information was gathered from the American Cancer Society’s website under Physical Side Effects:
  • Pain—caused by the cancer itself or as a result of applied treatments.
  • Nausea and vomiting—directly related to the result of applied treatments. Synthetic medicines are usually prescribed to combat this effect.
  • Fatigue—caused by the cancer itself or as a result of applied treatments.
  • Anemia—caused by the cancer itself spreading into bone marrow or as a result of applied treatments.
  •   Lymphedema—“…a build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin. This build-up causes swelling (or edema), most often in the arms or legs. Lymphedema can result from surgery or radiation therapy to treat certain cancers.”
  • Infections—caused by the cancer itself or as a result of applied treatments, leading to a compromised immune system.
  •  Second cancers caused by cancer treatment—Applied treatments themselves may increase cancer risk later in life.
  •  Sexual side-effects in men—caused by the cancer itself or as a result of applied treatments.
  •  Sexual side-effects in women—caused by the cancer itself or as a result of applied treatments.
  •  Fertility—as a result of surgery or applied treatments (cancer.org).

            In order to put a face on the traditional therapies given in this report and get a more in-depth view on this issue, an interview was conducted with a friend diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Three questions were asked of her:
1. What treatments/therapies have you incorporated?
2. What are the side-effects?
3. How has it helped your condition?

Her reply was quite lengthy, so it will be included in an addendum. She never addresses whether or not traditional treatments have helped her. However, she does mention the effectiveness of cannabis in treating her side-effects.

CONCLUSION

Cancer is the #2 cause of death in the United States (cdc.gov); it’s no wonder why most Americans have been touched in some way by this awful disease. Many of us have watched our loved one/s suffer the debilitating pain of this disease and its treatments. Traditional “therapies” usually consist of surgical removal of the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation. These options are thrust upon us by the medical industry without a second thought given to “alternative” or “natural” therapies. Most of the afflicted have not researched the topic regarding their particular type of cancer at the time of diagnoses. In fear, many leap towards the treatment options given by the “experts.”
            While in certain instances surgery does appear to be an excellent course of action, the patient still must take many factors into consideration. What are his/her chances of survival afterwards? How will this type of surgery effect quality of life? What is the probably of effectiveness? The same factors apply to radiation and chemotherapy.
With the bombardment of pharmaceutical ads, media coverage and conditioned programming, in conjunction with the undesirable side-effects of traditionally prescribed treatments; education and personal preference is the key to making informed decisions. We must be vigilant and question everything regarding our own health.
It does appear “medical marijuana” is a legitimate way in which to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions without unhealthy side-effects and there are many more advancements on the horizon. It will be interesting to see how “the forces that be” handle the evidence.

Works Cited

"Cafe Vale Tudo" Cafe Vale Tudo. N.p., n.d. JPEG file. 01 May 2013.

"Deaths and Mortality." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 05 Apr. 2013. Web. 01 May 2013.

"Historical Timeline - Medical Marijuana - ProCon.org." Historical Timeline - Medical Marijuana - ProCon.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.

"How Does Radiation Therapy Work?" How Does Radiation Therapy Work? American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.

Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D. "History of Cannabis in Ancient China." Psychology Today, n.d. Web. 28 April 2013.

Kopel, David. "Reefer Madness and the Prohibition of Marijuana in the United States."Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 01 May 2013.

"New England Journal Of Medicine Argues For Medical Marijuana Proposed NORML Bill Echoes Medical Journal's Sentiments." NORML, n.d. Web. 28April 2013.

Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Marijuana? What Is Cannabis?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 11 June 2012. JPEG file. Web. 28 April 2013.

Petersen, Robert C. Ph.D., ed. Nida Research Monograph 14. U.S. Department Of Health, Education, and Welfare P, 1977. Print.

R. N. Kumar1, W. A. Chambers2, R. G. Pertwee3. "Pharmacological Actions and Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids." Wiley Online Library. Anaesthesia, n.d. PDF file. 28 April 2013.

Russ Belville. "NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws." NORML Blog Marijuana Law Reform Medical Marijuanas Not Getting Any Better the Time for RElegalization Is NOW. Norml, n.d. JPEG file. Web. 01 May 2013.

Stefan Hart, Oliver M. Fischer, and Axel Ullrich. "Cannabinoids Induce Cancer Cell Proliferation via Tumor Necrosis Factor α-Converting Enzyme (TACE/ADAM17)- Mediated Transactivation of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor." American Association for Cancer Research, n.d. PDF file. 27 April 2013.

"The History of Cancer." American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 28 April 2013.

Vincenzo Di Marzo1, Maurizio Bifulco3 & Luciano De Petrocellis2. Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, n.d. Web. 01 May 2013.


Addendum by xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

*In order to honor the hell my friend has had to endure, I have made no corrections and left the text she emailed to me just as she wrote it. The following is in her own words.

Background:
My symptoms were quite vague and all were initially attributed to everyday occurances.  The most notable was the back pain that was dead center of my back and got increasingly worse over a course of 60-90 days.  It was when I became severely jaundiced on Dec. 27, 2012 that I finally went to the ER.  A CT scan was done and found the tumor that was 5cm in size and was blocking my bile duct – leading to the jaundice.

TREATEMENTS/THERAPIES
I started chemotherapy at Missouri Baptist Cancer Center on January 10, 2013.  The 5 hour IV infusion consisted of the following:
1.      Leucovorin:  A reduced folic acid used in combination with the other drugs to either enhance effectiveness or as a “chemoprotectant”. 

Side effects of Leucovorin are typically attributable to other medications given in conjunction with Leucovorin.  When given with fluorocuracil (5-FU), the side effects of the 5-FU may be more pronounced.  I’ll discuss those side-effects I felt under the 5-FU listing.

2.      Oxaliplatin – (ox-all-ee-plat-in):  A cytotoxic or antineoplastic chemotherapy drug.  It is classified as an “alkylating agent”
Side effects:
a.       Peripheral Neuropathy:  Numbness and tingling and cramping of the hands and feet often triggered by cold.  I suffer this with each treatment – mostly the sharp tingling of the fingers brought on by cold or “frozen lips/esophagus/stomach cramping when eating something frozen or even when drinking something with ice in it.  Each treatment seems it takes a little longer for this side effect to subside.  To treat this I keep a pair of gloves in my purse and use them when grocery shopping in the frozen section.  I rarely have a “cold drink” anymore – everything has to be at room temperature or I get a feeling of my mouth and esophagus being “paralyzed” and then my stomach will cramp severely.
b.     Nausea and vomiting:  Even with the medications I’m given to help with this – I’ve had some bouts of nausea/vomiting where my back was thrown out from the violence of the vomiting.  My best treatment for the nausea has been cannabis – and has the least of its own side effects.  The anti-nausea medications I have taken lead to severe constipation, even further fatigue (debilitating fatigue) and a complete loss of appetite.
c.      Diarrhea:  Yeah – ugh.
d.     Mouth sores:  Much like canker sores or sores when you burn your mouth eating something too hot – I’ve had them all over my gums, lips and cheeks.  There is a medical mouthwash I could have gotten – but rinsing with a sea-salt water worked very well and is how I’ve treated “chemo-mouth”.  Trying to eat with this was extremely painful and the prescription medication for most of the “pains” I’ve had to deal with is Oxycontin.  Oxycontin causes severe constipation for me and doesn’t truly eliminate the pain I go through based on the “safe” levels I can take of it.  My best treatment for this was cannabis as it just made it easier to tolerate some pain when I knew I absolutely had to find a way to eat something even with the sores.
e.      Low Blood Counts:  White and Red Blood cell counts drop, putting me at risk for infection, anemia and/or bleeding.  Each treatment has led to low counts and I’ve nearly had 3 treatments postponed from it.
f.      Fatigue:  There have been times where all I could do was rest for as many as 4-5 days at a time.
g.     Loss of appetite:  Losing 40+ lbs. over a 45 day time frame really took a toll.  At my lowest point I weighed only 96 lbs.  Not only did the cancer itself mess with my stomach, but treatments did too.  With the severe nausea, mouth sores, etc – the only non-prescription relief I could find was cannabis.   Typically about 30 minutes after using my vaporizer, I would be hungry enough to eat at least a small portion of food and drink down a protein shake. 
h.     Other generalized side effexts of Oxaliplatin are constipation, fever, generalized pain, headache, cough and temporary increases in blood tests measuring liver function.  Again – the generalized pain, constipation and headaches were improved when I replaced the use of Oxycontin or Hydrocodone occasionally with the use of cannabis through my home vaporizer.

3:  Irinotecan (eye-rye-noh-tee-kan) is a cytotoxic or antineoplastic chemotherapy drug and is classified as a “plant alkaloid”
Side effects:
a:  Irinotecan is an irritant chemical that can cause inflammation of the vein through   which it is given.  Even with a power port that I had installed just over my right breast – there is a “blackening” of the vein and catheter that lead to my main vein in my neck.
b.  Diarrhea:  Yep – ugh again.
c.  Nausea and vomiting
d.  Weakness:  There are times for at least a week after treatment where I literally have to use my arms and help pull myself up from a squatting position in front the of kitchen cabinets. 
e.  Low white and red blood cell counts.
f.  Hair loss – I have had a little thinning and my eyelashes fell out – but I still have a lot of hair.
g.  Fever
h.  Weight loss
i.  Constipation (I believe THIS is the one that causes the worst constipation in me as about ½ way through this treatment I start getting serious stomach cramping – so severe they inject me with atropine and/or delotid for some relief)
j:  Insomnia – this wakes me up sometimes more than twice an hour.  I have been given a prescription that is supposed to help treat insomnia, depression and appetite – but it also has it’s own side effects that have led me back to the use of MMJ for treatmentto
k.  Cough, headache, dehydration, chills, flatulaence, mouth sores, heartburn, swelling of feet and ankles – and yes – I’ve had them all!!  I take prevacid twice a day for about 20 out of 30 days of the month due to the heartburn.

4; Fluorouracil (5-FU):  is a cytotoxic or antineoplastic drug and is classified as an antimetabolite.   I take this one over a 46 hour period on a portable pump at home due to how toxic it is – it must be taken slowly.
            Side effects:
a.       Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, poor appetite, low blood counts
b.     Photophobia:  sensitivity to light, watery eyes. 
c.      Taste changes, metallic taste in mouth during infusion –s ometimes lasting for days.
d.     Discoloration along vein through which the medication is given.
e.      Skin reactioins:  dry, cracking, peeling skin.  Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation)
f.      Hair thinning
g.     Nail changes:  discoloration or loss of nails (I’ve lost one toenail – LOL)
h.     Hand-foot syndrome:  Skin rash, swelling, redness, pain and/or peeling of the skin on the palms of hand and soles of feet.  (My skin is pretty smooth these days!)  LOLLL
i.       Extreme drowsiness or dizziness – which explains why I sleep for several days after a cycle of treatment.

Therapies I have done outside of chemotherapy:

1.      Meditation.  One side-effect of a cancer diagnosis that just can’t be ignored is the mental drain it takes on someone.  The meditation has helped me to manage the physical and emotional effects of cancer and cancer treatments.
2.     Physical therapy:  I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer with a medical degree who helps on the days I can tolerate exercise – to monitor and assist in trying to regain strength, balance, coordination and stamina.  This will go into full force after surgery is done and I am no longer on chemo treatments.
3.     Bathtime:  I’ve found taking a nice warm bath with great smelling bath oils does wonders at relieving many symptoms, side-effects and emotional health.
4.     MMJ:  After reading through this – I’m sure you can see where MMJ has been a true god-send at times.  Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Atropine, Delotid, etc:  they all have a purpose but some things that are left untreated by them are the loss of appetite, nausea, and sleeping disorders.  Sleep is a MUST for cancer patients – it’s the time the body can work to heal itself – especially after taking these very toxic chemo drugs!!  I’ve been able to eat my best – most needed meals after relaxing with a little MMJ.  And for sleep:  I can usually get 4-5 hours of solid sleep after using MMJ – and it is the ONLY thing that helps.
Hope this helps you – feel free to ask any questions you may have!











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